Pawn shop bass: 1/2 size Georg Hellman / Framus, solid top (?)

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by mindwell, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. mindwell

    mindwell Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    Wichita, KS
    Picked this up for $200 out the door in the pawnshop that takes all my discretionary income. Sides and edges are trashed, has lots and lots of repairs (neck, scroll, sides, top), and sounds GREAT. Obviously, it's German, post-war. Any thoughts as to more precise vintage, origin, and value?


  2. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)
    For $200, I say nice score!

    There's a pretty substantial crack in the top (lower treble side) - is it open or secured?
    In terms of value, it's a small-sized, beater bass that was once a decent student instrument. We're not talking incredible money, but if it works and makes you happy it's more than worthwhile...


    Paul (eh_train)
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  3. mindwell

    mindwell Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    Wichita, KS
    Paul, thanks! Yes, that long crack has been glued, but probably needs regluing. I put the bass up on Ken Smith's site, and he came back with the original retail price (about $200 in 1960s dollars), the observation that the edges need some pricey repairs, and some curiosity as to the label that is visible under the Framus label. He also pegged the quality on par with Juzek-tagged basses of similar vintage.

    I take Ken's summary judgment regarding the deal, "so it's OK," to be the semantic equivalent of your "I say nice score!" ;)
  4. I have this same exact model bass - albeit in a bit better shape.

    If it is anything like mine, you made a damn good buy. I, myself, might not have the qualifications to make that call, but two different professional bassists I know, of considerable jazz and symphony experience, have said as much after playing it. "You could play this for the rest of your life and not need another bass," were the words of one of them. The luthier who I brought it to for a setup, after I purchased it, was also impressed at the quality. It has a great, deep, resonant, punchy, woody sound.

    The notion that 1/2 size basses should be avoided, may indeed be true in 99% of cases, but this bass would seem to be the rare exception.

    The luthier fixed some small cracks, re-surfaced the fingerboard, and added adjusters to the bridge, in addition to setup and putting strings. I had it set up for jazz, with Helicore Hybrid strings, and I have been practicing the hell out of it for no other reason than that I absolutely love the feel and the sound of it. I have small hands and so the 38" string length is absolutely perfect for me. The bass has both tone and volume to burn. I really, really, REALLY lucked out with this bass - and I paid $650 for it. You did even better.

    Take it to a skilled luthier; have it fixed up and set up; consider yourself lucky as hell.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014
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  5. mindwell

    mindwell Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    Wichita, KS
    Thanks for writing! Your observations confirm my own take on the bass' voice and volume, and that's very encouraging what your friends had to say about yours. It is a great bass, and like you, I'm not a big guy, so I can imagine playing those Bach violincello suites much more easily on this guy than on my 3/4 ply.

    I've been out of town, so a trip to the luthier for assessment and a repair cost estimate is in order. I don't want to put more money into it than could be realized in a future sale, obviously, but your post solidifies my hunch that this may well be a bass worth keeping, half-size be damned. It sounds so good acro!
    Reiska likes this.
  6. Yeah I got a bow recently and have been playing arco a bit. It sounds extremely good with the bow and has outstanding volume and tone. Mine has Helicore Hybrid strings. I find they work equally well both pizz. and arco.

    This is just a killer bass. Again I must reiterate, it is not for everyone. If you are taller than 5'6 and have hands of average or above size, you may be better off with a 3/4. The hand size matters more than the height, I think. Length of arms also probably is important. Your bass has to fit your body shape. For a lot of people, 3/4 is ideal. However, if you are a smaller person with smaller sized hands, and you have the opportunity to get one of these 1/2 Framus basses. DO IT. They're awesome.

    mindwell likes this.